Friday, June 18, 2010

"Yeah, really?!"

"The salesperson at "XYZ" Books tried to talk me out of buying this book."

"I'm sorry Woody Allen, blood or no blood relation, it's creepy!"

"I'd actually like to read a quality book about Vienna in the 1800's."

A few memorable quotes from our discussion of Selden Edwards, The Little Book.

Here's a quick plot summary to save you the trouble of ever having to read this "especially delicious" (according to Maureen Corrigan, FRESH AIR) tale.

Wheeler is a famous Rock & Roll star from the 1970's who also happened to be an almost baseball legend who speaks German fluently and who has a remarkable knowledge of Freud, the history and politics of Vienna Austria in the late 1890's.  This is all very helpful because for some unknown reason he wakes up to find himself walking the streets of Vienna in 1897.  During his time in Vienna he interacts with Dr. Sigmund Freud,  Gustav Klimpt, Mark Twain and a woman trying to pass herself off as George Elliot.  He also runs into multiple generations of his own family making enemies with some and getting FAR too close with others.

In the beginning we are told that his family had some big book of all sorts of interesting information and while Wheeler was in Vienna he keep a notebook with lots of observations while he was there, and then eventually there is a big reveal that "gasp" the books are one in the same.  REALLY?  wow

We as a group pretty much picked this book apart.  We decided that Wheeler is the fantasy description of who the ideal man might be. A sports hero (stopping short of pitching a perfect game at Haaarvard) a rock star, his most famous song was one he sang only once on a stage in front of 100,000 people, he was saavy with women, told Freud to his face what the flaws were with his theories, made love to a woman 20 years his junior in a loft surrounded by paintings that would eventually be in the Louver, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and on t-shirt and handbags of American women everywhere.  REALLY? (boring)

In concept, this book is the movie Groundhogs day, only there's no big "thing" to fix or resolve.  He's there, he's interacting with people that according to all science fiction fantasy he shouldn't.  Everyone knows, if you go back in time you're not supposed to alter history.  Sure, you can bet on sporting events that you know the outcome to (ala Back to the Future) but you aren't supposed to tell President Lincoln to skip the show.   This guy violates every imaginary back in time rule you can imagine.  He somehow manages (with no clothes and no money) to make friends with the most influential social people of the era.

We do agree that Vienna in the 1890's were an amazing time and we would like to learn more about it, but sheesh, this isn't the book.

The characters were flat, the writing was bad and in spite of the convoluted nature of the plot... it was obvious.  I personally HATED the last lines of the book.

"XXXXX" were XXX's last words.
This time around.

REALLY?!  oh please.

Do we recommend it?  um... no.